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 S3/4 EP 2

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Join date : 2011-03-24

PostSubject: S3/4 EP 2   Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:12 pm


'Strike Back' S. 3 Ep. 2 preview: Stonebridge is shot!

By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol RedEye 3:21 p.m. CDT, August 16, 2013 One thing about our heroes in "Strike Back:" They never seem to get hit by the millions of bullets being fired at them. But that changes in tonight's episode of the Cinemax series. As you can see in the exclusive preview clip here, Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) takes a bullet to the chest. Ouch! Is he going to survive? I'm not saying (but somebody dies). The episode, which I'll call "Miguel Gomez's Revenge" since the writers and/or producers don't see fit to title their episodes, premieres at 9 p.m. CT Aug. 16. It picks up pretty much where we left off last week, with Section 20 operatives running around Bogota, Colombia, trying to recapture Leo Kamali (Zubin Varla), moneyman for the terrorist they are after, Al-Zuhari. If you remember a few months back I posted a "Strike Back" Recon video in which Sullivan Stapleton, who plays Damien Scott, took us behind-the-scenes of what turns out to be this episode as the gang robs the Bogota Stock Exchange. (I've included that video below as well, and two other preview clips from this episode.) It's fitting Stapleton did the Recon piece, as Scott is the guy who comes up with the brilliant idea to enter the Bogota Stock Exchange with the help of drug lord Miguel Gomez's (Raoul Trujillo) brother. As you will see, Gomez does exact just a little revenge (after he takes off the guys' shirts--woot!). Anyway, watch below. Meanwhile, Rachel Dalton (Rhona Mitra) looks for the source that exposed her team in Beirut, but discovers a surprising ally and a piece of Al-Zuhari's plan. The episode was written by Simon Burke, Tim Vaughan and Michael J. Bassett, who also directed. Watch the video sneak below, and flip through the Ep. 2 photo gallery at the top of this page.
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PostSubject: Re: S3/4 EP 2   Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:15 pm


Strike Back
Cinemax Milauna Jackson (left), Philip Winchester
“Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2” S3 / E2
by Myles McNutt August 16, 2013

   B+ Community Grade

Strike Back has always shared a strong connection with video games in its storytelling. A typical episode of the Cinemax series has three types of scenes: extended action sequences with high body counts and a lot of run-and-gun choreography, exposition sequences constructed as Section 20 briefings or bedroom rendezvous, and usually some form of dialogue-heavy altercation with a central villain or a different villainous figure. In addition to thinking about each two-episode story—which we’ll be reviewing as cohesive units this season—as a movie, we could also each story as a revolving sequence of gameplay segments and cutscenes.

I raise this comparison for two reasons. The first is that “Episode One” and “Episode Two” were filled with ideas—randomly bumping into a past lover, teaming up with colorful local operatives, escorting a hostage through a firefight, cover-based shooting, multi-stage action sequences with various modes of transportation—that, in addition to being action movie clichés in their own right, also felt ripped out of the chapters of a series like Naughty Dog’s Uncharted (which I’d personally consider a compliment given my affection for that series). However, the other reason is that Strike Back isn’t going to change its patterns to introduce you to the overarching narrative of the season; instead, much as a video game prologue often has you playing through a sequence that’s functions largely to orient you to the world of a particular game, Strike Back is going to be exactly the kind of show it’s always been in these opening episodes while finding a way to tell you a story in the process.

These episodes tell the story of Section 20’s latest mission in Colombia, but the actual details of that mission are fairly irrelevant. The villains turn out to be the Gomez brothers, consisting of a rocket launcher-toting ex-police chief and a corrupt and overweight bureaucrat, but they function mostly as fodder so that we can get to know a new cast of characters and gain perspective on a new central conflict. The country and its corruption provide a playground for the series to stage the reintroduction and death of Mossad agent Rebecca (who we last saw in the fifth and sixth episodes of last season), the introduction of new “Friend of Section 20” Martinez (Milauna Jackson), the complicated arrival of CIA double agent Kamali and his Bin Laden-esque leader Al-Zuhari, as well as the new oversight of Section 20’s new leader, Major Philip Locke (Robson Green). The result is a prologue which jumps quickly into the series’ signature action while simultaneously adding emotional stakes for Scott, diversifying the ranks of Section 20 in terms of both race and gender, establishing the season’s big bad, and setting up a bureaucratic challenge that could well carry through to future episodes.

There are points where the expediency of the two hours becomes overwhelming: by the time you reach the end of “Episode Two,” Baxter’s death—which opened the season—feels like a long-ago memory, an initial shock to reintroduce you to the high stakes world of Strike Back that ceases to resonate as the burden of introducing the rest of the seasonal arc takes over. Additionally, the Dalton storyline in Lebanon—while a welcome way to transition Rhona Mitra into a more active, action-heavy role in the series—often registers as a diversion from the Colombian storyline, too thin to become a well-developed story as opposed to a venue for exposition; as evidence, look at the way the storyline uses and abuses the trope of the all-important source who is shot just as he’s about to prove more cooperative.

Those broad strokes are often what keeps Strike Back from being taken more seriously, but the show deserves credit for making the broad strokes work. Rebecca’s arc in the episode is riddled with clichés, whether it’s the coincidence that brings her back into Scott’s life, her miraculous recovery after nearly drowning in the boat, or her dramatic death in Scott’s arms as the gunfire around him somehow manages to miss him entirely. However, while each individual moment fits comfortably within a cliché, taken as a whole there is something refreshing about the show committing to her death after faking it, with the stringing together of various moments adding up to a memorable if efficient character arc that can realistically resonate with Scott during the season. The show rarely stops to develop characters in the same fashion as more traditional dramas, but it’s found ways to translate its action-heavy focus into character development, ways that when repeated week-after-week resemble the way video games peel back the layers of characters and narratives with each subsequent level over the course of a game.

I don’t think we need to talk about video games to talk about Strike Back: Just as The Wire isn’t a novel, and just as Breaking Bad isn’t “like a long movie,” I don’t want to reduce Strike Back to its run-and-gun/cutscene aesthetic and strip it of its—admittedly weird two-part story structure—televisuality. But the whole point of Strike Back is that, while it will never entirely shed its run-and-gun/cutscene aesthetic, that doesn’t mean it isn’t evolving. Admittedly, in a two-part premiere like this one, the nuance isn’t all there yet: Al-Zuhari is as generic a terrorist threat as you can imagine, and the buffoon of a CIA deputy director introduced at episode’s end was too cartoonish by half. Compared to last season, when the series was dealing with Stonebridge’s reluctant return as well as the more complicated figure of Conrad Knox as the “big bad” of the season, this is definitely a season driven by a more straightforward choice to tell bigger stories, expand the cast of characters, and let them loose on a global terror threat—for now. How that could evolve in the future remains to be seen, and will continue to be done within—rather than outside of—the action series template on display here.

Stray observations:

   We need to pour one out for poor Sgt. Liam Baxter, who I generally liked in previous seasons even if I still managed to forget his name here until a character uttered it. That being said, I can’t complain about a greater influx of women within Section 20, so I like the switch to Martinez on paper.
   I was a less enamored with the quick succession from “Martinez and Richmond as Prostitutes” to “Martinez and Richmond Pretend to be Lesbians.” I think the show handled it fine, but it still feels a bit exploitative in a show so focused on appealing to male viewers (as evidenced by Scott’s two softcore sequences, with Rebecca and the waitress, in the episodes).
   There’s a couple of throwaway lines asking whether Scott and Stonebridge were really ready to return to Section 20: the highway sequence is a fun entry point for the season, and their motorcycle tour reintroduces the characters for new viewers, but it’s suggested they might have liked more time off. Interested to see how—if at all—that manifests in the season.
   “I always was a little heavy on the gas”—with this line from Locke, it’s nice to see that Scott and Stonebridge aren’t the only ones who get to crack a joke on occasion.
   The reveal of the rocket launcher was a great beat in “Episode One,” but I also liked the shot of the guy hanging out of the car getting shot toward the end of “Episode Two.” I enjoy a good laugh in the midst of a tense action sequence, and both delivered in their absurdity (See also: the window washer who just keeps washing windows).
   We’ll be back in two weeks with thoughts on “Episode Three” and “Episode Four”—in the meantime, I’ll probably start a quick conversation in these comments next Friday if we want to talk about “Episode Three” before its conclusion.
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PostSubject: Re: S3/4 EP 2   Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:44 pm


‘Strike Back’ Season 3, Episode 2 Review – Deep Cover
by Kevin Yeoman

Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester in Strike Back S3E2 Strike Back Season 3, Episode 2 Review – Deep Cover

By now you’ve likely noticed that Strike Back delivers its story in two-hour blocks, and that the first two hours tend to set off in one particular direction, only to have the narrative expand dramatically through not only some revelation in the story, but also through a dramatic escalation of the stakes.

So far, what has set season 3 (as its known here in the U.S. – otherwise it’s Shadow Warfare) apart from previous seasons where the story began by introducing the big bad – such as Game of Thrones‘ Charles Dance in season 2 – and by laying out some kind of character arc for Scott and Stonebridge, is the run-and-gun style execution of the plot has largely kept both of those bits of the formula out of the equation in favor of demonstrating just how much larger the storyline is this time around.

In that sense, the scope of last week’s premiere certainly differed from seasons 1 or 2, in that the basic narrative was split in two, with Scott and Stonebridge raising hell in Colombia while Dalton was engaged in her own action-oriented storyline in Lebanon, but it managed that scale at the expense of the characters – or so it seemed.

Now granted there isn’t a shocking amount of character development in episode 2, as the driving element of any episode of Strike Back is (and always will be) the plot, but what makes the series so much fun to watch is the way the writers manage to place smaller but still meaningful character moments into the larger action sequences to help color the experience of, say, Scott, Stonebridge, or even Dalton – now that her storyline has expanded to allow Rhona Mitra a chance to show off her abilities as an action star.

Michelle Lukes in Strike Back S3E2 Strike Back Season 3, Episode 2 Review – Deep Cover

In this case, episode 2 rather deftly handles its two primary tasks of giving a main character some resonant emotion to carry over the course of the season and to blow up the plot enough that most preconceived notions about where things are headed get thrown out the window. Now, al-Zuhari is still the main get here, but unlike Dance’s delusional South African businessman Conrad Knox, al-Zuhari is more of a figurehead, a somewhat standard leader of a shadowy terrorist organization who is known by many, but seen only through videotaped messages of the most dubious quality.

On one hand, this makes al-Zuhari more familiar and perhaps even plausible in a real world sense, but it also has prevented him from feeling like a tangible presence in the world of Strike Back. On the other hand, the lack of introduction to al-Zuhari helped give the reveal that Kamali is actually a deep cover CIA operative a little more juice.

Of course, Kamali’s last-second declaration of his true mission to Scott and Stonebridge felt more than a little artificial, and his CIA handler that’s introduced near the episode’s end is even less inspired. But if anything, Strike Back is one of few series where such contrivances can easily be overlooked for the sake of keeping the narrative’s engine revved at all times.

Philip Winchester Sullivan Stapleton and Raoul Trujillo in Strike Back S3E2 Strike Back Season 3, Episode 2 Review – Deep Cover

Case in point: The re-introduction of Rebecca last week had a lot in common with Kamali’s admission in terms of feeling overly manufactured and convenient, but it paid off during the firefight with The Jaguar’s men at the exchange when she was struck down and subsequently died in Scott’s arms. Now this isn’t to say the only way for something to resonate emotionally is for a character to be killed – though that is pretty standard for this show – but Rebecca’s established history with Scott, and what her death may mean for him throughout the rest of season 3, is again part of the perpetual motion of Strike Back that makes forgiving certain coincidences a little easier.

But it’s all part of telling what appears to be Strike Back‘s most ambitious storyline yet. So far, the season has introduced a bevy of new characters (Robson Green’s Major Philip Locke seems like a great addition) and is preparing to unleash them on a quest to uncover a global terrorist threat. Although the circumstances feel familiar, the delivery has been spot on, and if the story continues to interweave character and plot as well as it did here, the season may very well set a new standard for the series.


Strike Back continues next Friday @10pm on Cinemax. Check out a preview below:
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PostSubject: Re: S3/4 EP 2   Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:21 pm


‘Strike Back’: Safehouse
The hunt for Kamali continues when he slips through Michael and Damien's fingers.

Hermione Wilson, August 24, 2013 11:13:12 AM

This week on Strike Back, the daring escape/kidnapping continued. The team miraculously survived the boating accident, but unfortunately, after helping to pull an unconscious Rebecca from the wreckage, Kamali took off.

The team washed up in Bogota, Colombia. Reluctant to tell their superiors they’d lost Kamali, Rebecca and the Section 20 agents decided to join forces to find Kamali’s nearest safehouse, hoping to catch up with him there. First, though, they had to stage a bank robbery to get the location from Kamali’s safe deposit box. They took the president of the stock exchange hostage, who just happened to be the younger brother of a Colombian drug lord.

In Lebanon, Dalton tried to suss out who had betrayed her and Baxter to al-Zuhari’s men. Her search led to Sebastian Gray, an ex-agent who was now selling information to stay afloat. He told her al-Zuhari was targeting people who were dangerous to him — that included her and her late partner — and that he was planning a large-scale attack on Western military bases. Gray had a price on his head; he’d promised al-Zuhari’s men information about those military bases, information he didn’t actually have. Before Dalton could convince him to come in with her, his number came up rather abruptly. She pursued the sniper, but just as he was about to get the better of her, her boss, Lt. Col. Philip Locke, showed up just in time to save the day and remark dryly (in that uniquely British tone), “Ever get the feeling you outstayed your welcome?”

In Colombia, Michael, Damien and Rebecca weren’t so lucky. They eventually found Kamali’s safe deposit box, but before they could make a clean getaway, a guard sounded the alarm and they had to fight their way out of the bank. Rebecca went down with a bullet to the head, and she died in Damien’s arms. He didn’t have much time to grieve, though, as the team split up, racing to get to the safehouse ahead of Kamali.

It’s usually pretty easy to predict which way a character will jump in a TV show, but Kamali had me perplexed. On the one hand, he killed one of their agents in cold blood, but on the other hand, he saved Rebecca’s life and surrendered to Michael and Damien when they found him at the safehouse. He insisted that he was CIA, on a deep cover mission to infiltrate al-Zuhari’s organization, and convinced them to let him capture them, then promptly turn them over to his drug lord friend for torture with a modified cattle prod. It’s no wonder the guys refused to let him just walk away, even after he cut them loose and helped them shoot their way out.

Back at Section 20 HQ, their superiors couldn’t confirm that Kamali was CIA; Langley had no record of him. Their confirmation eventually materialized in the form of a pissed off CIA agent who came to collect Kamali. Locke wouldn’t let him go that easily, though. He gave the CIA an ultimatum: either Section 20 got to run Kamali’s operation and share in his intel or they’d see to it he got “25 to life” for killing Baxter. Now that Section 20 has an inside man in al-Zuhari’s organization, they can hopefully get in front of whatever mass destruction he’s planning to unleash on the West.

Strike Back airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO Canada.

Thoughts? Comments? Hit us up below!
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PostSubject: Re: S3/4 EP 2   Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:24 pm


STRIKE BACK 3.02 Review
Scott and Stonebridge find a surprising ally in Columbia as Section 20 discovers that they aren’t the only ones looking for Al-Zuhari.
August 17th, 2013 Blair Marnell

Strike Back 302

Writers: Simon Burke & Tim Vaughan & Michael J. Bassett

Director: Michael J. Bassett

Previously on "Strike Back":

Episode 3.01 Review

There was a moment in this week’s “Strike Back” where I thought that the show was getting away from its more realistic depiction of violence by letting Section 20 get through another firefight unscathed.

Then someone took a bullet to the head.

While an instantaneous death probably would been more real, that one is probably going to haunt this show for the rest of the season. And maybe beyond.

There are full spoilers ahead for last night’s episode of “Strike Back,” so you should probably skip this review if you haven’t seen it or else Colonel Locke will have to get his boots dirty.

Mossad agent Rebecca Levi (Lyne Renée) is dead. Although Rebecca could have been convincingly killed off in the immediate aftermath of last week’s cliffhanger. Sgt. Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) was able to rescue her from the capsized boat and he had one last round of lovemaking with Rebecca before their ill-fated final mission together.

It’s still kind of a joke to see how the “Strike Back” creative team is so willing to throw in a sex scene every week for Scott. But Scott’s fling with Rebecca was different. He was already emotionally attached to Rebecca during their first encounter last season. This time, Scott and Rebecca seemed to have more of a connection as they enjoyed each other’s company.

Rebecca lingers for a few minutes after her fatal wound and she dies in Scott’s arms as she tries to make peace with her God. It was hard to believe that Rebecca could survive that wound for any length of time, but it was worth it to see Scott so devastated and vulnerable over her demise. If “Strike Back” really wants to make an impact here, Scott should be feeling this one for a long time.

The reason that Rebecca’s death registers more strongly than Baxter’s is that the series actually took the time to develop Rebecca and give her a personality. There are currently only three members of Section 20 whom the audience really cares about. Although Sergeant Julia Richmond (Michelle Lukes) and Colonel Philip Locke (Robson Green) have potential. I’m not sure about Kim Martinez (Milauna Jackson). Although it was pretty amusing to see Martinez and Richmond deflect some unwanted attention by pretending to be a couple.

Major Rachel Dalton (Rhona Mitra) got another chance to shine this week as she managed to track down Sebastian Gray (Martin Clunes), an ex-British spy turned rogue operative. Getting Dalton out into the field has given Mitra an opportunity to show off her action skills and she is amazingly fun to watch. If Mitra leaves “Strike Back” after this season then maybe its time that she headlined her own action TV show.

It seemed like a waste to bring in Clunes for only two scenes, but Gray offered up an interesting vision of the future. What if Dalton turns out just like him? Someone so disillusioned by his or her government that they simply become loyal to only themselves. There’s also some foreshadowing of Dougray Scott’s new character, James Leatherby; whom we haven’t met yet. But it sounds like he’s a younger version of Gray.

The chase sequence between Dalton and an unnamed assassin was very exciting, but it was almost a letdown that the sudden appearance of Locke ended the sequence. Having an ally run over a threat is an action cliche at this point. But it’s almost redeemed by Dalton’s lack of overt gratitude. The closest she comes to thanking Locke is a slight nod in the car.

Back in Columbia, the episode started out with a fairly light tone as Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), Scott, Rebecca, Martinez and Richmond planned a bank robbery to get the location of the safe house where Leo Kamali (Zubin Varla) was hiding. Scott’s giddiness over the heist was infectious, although Stonebridge noted from the start that these capers always go wrong.

In a brilliant bit of black comedy, Scott bullies the obese brother of Miguel Gomez (Raoul Trujillo) into suffering a heart attack in the bank vault before attempting to convince Stonebridge to provide CPR “for Queen and Country” because Scott had already revived Rebecca. It was Rebecca herself who tried to revive the man, but it was Scott’s boot that brought him back from the brink of death.

Director Michael J. Bassett delivered the stand out sequence of the episode as Scott, Stonebridge and Rebecca attempted to shoot their way out of the cartel bank while facing down a private army. It was an amazingly well staged scene that had more excitement than almost anything else in the episode. Rebecca’s lingering death did seem to drain some of the fun out of it. But that bleak turn made it feel more powerful.

Last week, I guessed that Kamali was working with British intelligence under deep cover. But I was only partially right. When cornered by Scott and Stonebridge, Kamali outs himself as a CIA agent just as Gomez’s armed thugs surround the safehouse. The most telling part of Kamali’s story was that he seemed genuinely concerned about Rebecca’s absence. And faced with certain death, Scott and Stonebridge had to take the chance and trust Kamali.

That led to the extended torture sequence that’s been teased in the trailers for weeks. Even though I’ve seen it many times, Scott’s “I’m not British and he’s certainly not intelligent” line is still hilarious. But in the context of the scene, it was gallows humor. The cattle prod led torture of Stonebridge and Scott was pretty brutal. And their only savior was… Kamali?

Kamali was instrumental in their escape, but Scott and Stonebridge still brought him in as a captive. No one has forgotten that Kamali killed Baxter to preserve his cover. Although Kamali argued that he was showing mercy by granting Baxter a swift death before torture. Kamali’s CIA handler turned out to be the stereotypical American a**hole, but even he was taken aback by the footage of Kamali killing Baxter. At least enough to allow Locke to blackmail the CIA into using Kamali as their asset against al-Zuhari.

Kamali’s long term survival on this show seems doubtful, but he seems to have depth and it should be interesting to see how he works alongside Section 20 considering that they all have reasons to hate him. Kamali doesn’t even seem to realize that he’s so far into his cover that he needs to redeem himself for what he’s done to stay there.

For the second week in a row, “Strike Back” hit it out of the park with a great episode. If the rest of this season can maintain this quality, “Strike Back” won’t just be the best action show on TV… it could be one of the best shows, period.

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